Month: July 2007 (Page 1 of 2)

Losing It

Today M. went in for her three year check up. For some reason, they wanted me to fill out a new information form (there are two new receptionists, so my theory was the old one took all their records, or had a horrible system they’re revamping). I got to the line for my Social Security Number and totally blanked. I can name my last four digits no problem, since it seems like every credit card and utility uses that as a security feature. But even now, four hours later, I can’t think of the first five digits. There are five other digits, right? I’ve only had it since I was 13, it’s not like it’s a new number or something. I’m getting old, I guess, and will have to go open the safe deposit box to refresh my memory.

Oh, and M. did fine. 31 lbs., 50th% and 36.5”, 25th%. Right where she’s always been. And we thought she was getting taller, too.

The Third Birthday

S. and I realized something earlier this week: this is the last holiday we can ever half-ass. From here on out, M. is going to demand big productions of one kind or another. After four months of preschool, she’ll be fully prepared to work us over at Christmas. So we enjoyed one, last laid-back holiday as we celebrated her birthday Wednesday.

M. said some funny things Wednesday. For example, she told us all about how before she was born she was teeny-tiny and in her momma’s belly, and Dr. Chris had to cut momma’s shirt to get her out. She magically found the stuffed duck one of her aunts brought to the hospital that day, and told us several times how, when she was born, she and the duck slept on daddy’s chest. Smart girl. Of course, each time someone called to wish her a happy birthday, she clammed up. When her aunt in Australia called, she even put her arms over her ears so I couldn’t put the phone up to them.

We had the requisite cupcakes for her birthday treat (I think we’re cupcaked out after three rounds this month) and then got to the presents. Her Mimi brought her a necklace from Disneyland (Or is it Disneyworld? I can’t keep them straight.) along with some other goodies. She got Dora balloons from an aunt. Lots of birthday cards from many family members. And, since she is a spoiled Carmel kid, she got a car from mom and dad. Of course, it is a Little Tikes car, and not an actual car, but we are a little nervous about the precedent we’re setting. She loved it, although she had a hard time figuring out the steering. It’s a Flinstones car, in that her feet touch the ground and that’s how she propels herself. She couldn’t grasp the concept of shifting her weight on her feet to change directions, so she would reach her hands out, grab the roof, and try to shove it right or left. And, of course, she fell through the bottom once onto the ground, naturally when we weren’t paying enough attention to her.

To keep things fair, C. got a ride-on toy as well, although she seemed much more interested in running into the neighbors’ driveway and using their toy that was similar. As soon as M. got out of her car, C. would run over and try to climb into it. I see many fights in the future over the car.

So, it was a pretty good birthday. It started raining around 7:30, so we had to come inside, and after the cupcakes and the excitement from the gifts, the girls both kind of wigged out, racing around, knocking each other over, and generally not listening to mom and dad. But they went to bed as tired, happy little girls.

Hard to believe M. is already three. Two was definitely a tough year for us all. She had to learn how to share attention with her sister. She grew up a lot, but also went through most of the things most two-year-olds go through. We had to deal with all the garbage two-year-olds throw at their parents. I’ve decided two-year-olds make you feel like you’re a failure as a parent, and that’s on the good days. Some people have told us things get better at three, others that things get worse. I’m really hoping she doesn’t get even more emotional and temperamental but rather lets the sweet side of her personality come out more. When she snuggles up with me and gives me hugs, I know it’s still in there.

Oh, funny side note. The other night we were playing in the van in the garage. We had all the seats either taken out or folded down after hauling some stuff to a sister-in-law’s house, so the girls had lots of room to play. I was sitting in the very back, S. was standing outside the passenger door. C. crawled up to the center console and started playing with stuff. No biggie, she does that a lot. However, one of us had left a half-full can of Diet Coke in a cupholder. At the same moment, S. and I both saw C. picking it up and dumping it all over the console, shaking it for good measure. S. gasped and ran towards the door. I leaped up to grab C. and yelled, “God dammit, C.!”

Immediately, from behind me, I hear M. say, “Dammit!” in a fake, exasperated voice. I turned and said, trying not to be too forceful, “That’s not a nice word to say, M.. Don’t say it again.”

“OK.” Then, “ Oh my goodness!” which she repeated several times.

As we were sopping up the Diet Coke, M. walked up behind me, patted me on my back and said, “It’s going to be all right, dad.” I thought that was pretty sweet and funny.

Christmas In July

With M.’s birthday just two days away and S. working tomorrow night, I selected Monday night to assemble the birthday gift that needed assembling. No hints (I’ve caught M. trying to break my password to wake up the Mac several times), but I envisioned Christmases Future as I struggled to put this thing together.

What was most maddening was the instruction sheet. Not a word of description anywhere on it, all pictographs. Now anyone who has assembled anything in the last ten years is used to this. It is rare to find the company that bothers to put words next to an assembly diagram. But what royally pissed me off tonight was the utter vagueness of these instructions. In a couple, they placed a man in the picture, apparently to show you the correct angle to manhandle the pieces from. However, in at least one, the “man” was blocking an important part of the process, leaving me to guess at exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Also, at several points along the way there where large stop signs with a specific piece next to it. I had no idea what this meant. Was I supposed to check to ensure I had the correct part? Was I supposed to take a break, maybe get a beer? Or, did the designer think it would be funny just to throw random stop signs in to confuse us? I’m sure some summer intern could have put a brief description together and saved me some worry.

Now I just hope I deciphered everything correctly and this thing doesn’t fall apart and crush M. the first time she puts all of her weight onto it.

The Tao Of Childcare

Actually, I don’t think this is tao at all, but I’ve noticed something in recent weeks:

The more kids you have, the harder it is to keep your house clean.

Reader’s Notebook

Burmese Days – George Orwell. I read this book primarily because I saw an interesting looking travel book at Borders that is about following Orwell’s trail in modern Burma. I figured I needed the background before I could justify buying it. This is no where near as good as Orwell’s more famous works – 1984, Animal Farm – but still presents an interesting and remarkable critique of the British empire during its final glory days during the inter-war period. There were certainly cracks in the foundation of the empire after World War I, but few believed that independence was coming any time soon, mostly because Brits generally felt the natives weren’t intelligent enough to govern themselves. The book centers on the racism that dominates the thoughts of most ex-pats living abroad. They convene at the Club each day, to share each other’s company and remind themselves of their superiority to the Burmese and Indians they govern and work with. It’s difficult to believe the thought represented in this book was the predominant view of Europeans and Americans not too long ago, and still clung to by some.
Beyond the social critique, the book is a bit clumsy. Orwell’s mastery of language is apparent, but the plot is rather transparent – his foreshadowing is a little too forceful and it’s easy to see where things are headed. It will be interesting to see how the modern view of Burma compares to this view from a century ago.

Abandonded Book: The Star Fraction – Ken MacLeod. As we’ll discuss in greater depth later, I’ve been in the mood to read some science fiction lately. I found a list of some of the best current SF authors, saw MacLeod’s name and this book, the first in a trilogy, recommended, so I snapped it up. 50 pages in, I just couldn’t get into it. It’s not deep space SF – it takes place just 40 years into the future in Europe, where the maps and governments have changed and there are constant battles for supremacy. I found the writing heavy-handed and overly dense. So I quit.
Skimmed Book: Lifehacker – Gina Trapani. I skim the Lifehacker site each day, so thought I’d check out the book when I found it in the library. Lifehacking is the concept of using technology (usually) to make complex activities in your life more manageable. There are some good ideas in here, although despite being labeled as “cross-platform” on the cover, most are focused on the Windows world. Thus, I just skimmed to the things that I could do on a Mac, or off the computer, and skipped the rest.

The next three books I read are a part of a trilogy and demand their own entry later this week.

Fun Day At The Pool

Posting as I listen to the new Crowded House album…

We took the girls to the magnificent, opulent, new city pool here in Carmel Monday. I think the city spent something like $800 million on it (slight exaggeration) and still has the nerve to charge residents to use it. Anyway, it’s loaded with all kinds of stuff: a kiddie pool, a lap pool, a hybrid pool that is for bigger kids and feeds into a normal pool, a dive and slide pool, a lazy river (which of course was not working), and then a huge water slide. Pretty snazzy, and any of you out-of-towners who visit us in the summer months will be taken there, since it’s cheap entertainment and a way to show off our tax dollars at work.

The girls reacted predictably. We spent the majority of our time in the kiddie pool, which gets 18 inches deep at its deepest, and has a little slide, some fun water toys, and small fountains off one side. C. lunged into the pool, waded all over, cheered for other kids as they went down the slide, and spent a ton of time in the fountains. She would get sprayed in the face, scream with delight, and go back for more. More than one mom at the pool commented on how well she walked in the water and how she had no fear. “Remember these moments when she’s racing cars one day,” said one mom. In short, C. loved it and couldn’t get enough. She even fell asleep on the way home from all of her hard work.

The big sister, on the other hand, had her usual issues. Didn’t want to get in the water at first. When she would get a drop or two splashed on her, she would freeze and cover her head like she was under attack. Refused to go down the slide, although she did start to climb the stairs on her own once but scurried back down as soon as some other kids got near her. And generally played the role of the worrier who can’t relax. We met some friends, so she had a couple kids her age to play with, but that was mostly out of the water. She finally got brave near the end of our time at the pool, and would take a long lap all the way around the pool, and then walk through the water to the corner where we were sitting. It’s still frustrating that she can’t relax and really enjoy things, but I’m starting to relax myself and realize that eventually she will get over these fears and allow herself to have the same kind of fun all the other kids are having. I just have to learn the art of patience while she is going through this stage.

Shitty Day

Literally a shitty day. We went through at least a dozen diapers and pull-ups today. I’m expecting anti-pollution people to picket our house tomorrow because of all the waste. When we got the girls out of bed this morning, they had each managed to remove their diapers. M.’s bed was just soaked. I’ll spare the details, but C.’s was far worse, and at 5:00 AM to boot. Not every day of parenthood can be lemonade and cotton candy, I guess.

We even had a little bonus action. We took the girls to the park after dinner, and another family was there with their kids (We eat at like 5:15 most nights, so we hit the park when normal people are just sitting down to their dinners). Their three-year-old apparently had to relieve himself, there were no bathrooms nearby, so his mom took him over to the grass and had him squat on a newspaper or something. Being a boy, he shamelessly took care of his business, got cleaned up, and ran over to us and said, “I pooped! It was stinky!” We dealt with enough today without having random kids come up and tell us all about their crap. What is it with all the random people talking to us these days, anyway?

Now that I’ve shared that, here’s something more fun. C. celebrating July 4th in her own special way. And these aren’t even the kid’s best moves. I’m telling you, she’s got talent, and we really need to channel it in a different direction so that I don’t spend the next 17 years going to dance recitals.


I tend to get stuck on specific memories occasionally. I’ll call up some image from the past and it becomes a dominant thought for a couple days. I’m never sure if this is a sign, and if it is a sign what it means, or just how my brain works. For example, last fall I went through an extended phase where I kept thinking of the fall of 1994, when my roommate got a Mac and we were discovering the strange world of AOL. (I was so proud the day I learned how to talk trash on Michigan fans in the College Football chat room after Kordell Stewart went all Doug Flutie on them!) This spring, I kept thinking of watching Royals’ games with my grandfather in 1988. For like a week, that was the constant background noise I dealt with.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of my favorite shows ever, Ed. The whole Stuckeyville gang – Ed, Carol, Mike, Nancy, etc. – keep popping up. That’s not unusual; every 4-5 months I check in to see if there are any updates on Ed coming to DVD (All reports say to the producers, or whoever is responsible, are working very hard, but they are having issues clearing the rights for all the music they used. They hope to get there, but are not there yet). I think this latest, extended stretch comes from a recent profile I read about Justin “I’m a Mac” Long, who is in the new Die Hard movie. I was a little bummed no one comes up to him and talks about his days as Warren P. Cheswick. As much as I love Macs, I still think of him as Warren first.

As I thought about it more, I decided Ed was definitely one of my five favorite shows ever. Probably #3, behind Cheers and Seinfeld. Part of that is because it was a great, if under-appreciated show. Part is because it was kind of my show – lots of friends watched it, too, but I was one of the first in our circle of friends to start watching and spread the world. S. used Ed as the theme for my 30th birthday party, which solidified that bond. And I’m sure part had to do with the point in my life when Ed came along, when I was advancing out of the entry-level part of my career into actually doing meaningful work, starting a relationship of depth and importance, and taking the final jump to adulthood and benefiting from the boost of confidence that came along with it. I remember a good friend gushed about Friends during its first season, saying the show was “exactly about my life!” Ed felt like that for me. Ironically, in the show’s final year, I didn’t watch much, partially because I was traveling so much, partially because NBC was yanking it around the schedule. But perhaps part of that was also because of how my life had changed with marriage, home ownership, etc. I thought the show ended well, hitting just the right notes in its final episode, if too soon. Sadly, TBS gave up way too quickly on airing reruns in 2004.

Anyway, because of those memories, I’ve been reading through a few Ed forums (They’re still out there, believe it or not), both to get DVD news and remember some of my favorite episodes. That got my brain working and I thought, in honor of my the show and the holiday week, I would put together a mix of some of the great music that was featured during the show’s 3 1/2 year run. It was like Grey’s Anatomy, only not all the songs were for chicks.

So, if you follow the link below, you’ll be able to download a quick and dirty mix of some songs I discovered via the good people at Ed. Hopefully the DVDs will be out before too long.

1 – “I’ll Be Coming Home” – Foo Fighters. The excellent theme song (For seasons 1, 3, and 4. We’ll pretend season two’s intro never happened).
2 – “Someday, Someway” – Marshall Crenshaw. This has become one of my all-time favorite songs thanks to both Ed and a friend who introduced me to Marshall at about the same time.
3 – “Bohemian Like You” – Dandy Warhols. This was in the same episode as “Someday, Someway.” The producers were on a roll that week.
4 – “Dressed Up Like Nebraska” – Josh Rouse. My introduction to an artist who has become one of my favorites, even if he’s left the Midwest behind.
5 – “What A Fool Believes” – The Doobie Brothers. As the show went on, it leaned more towards classic songs like this, but it was still a nice flash-back.
6 – “Dope Nose” – Weezer. When radio was sucking and you couldn’t hear songs like this anywhere, Ed occasionally came through for us.
7 – “I’m Always In Love” – Wilco. Again, ignored by radio, pumped up by Ed.
8 – “Fight Test” – The Flaming Lips. I always thought executive producer David Letterman set the tone for playing music like this, stuff out of the mainstream but worthy of a listen.
9 – “Yellow” – Coldplay. Ubiquitous for awhile, this might have been the first show to feature this song.

On Fireworks

I have to say, no matter what people who vote red in each election might claim, I love America. But I hate fireworks.

Big, pretty fireworks that can be seen from miles away are fine. It’s the ones that regular people decide to fire off at 10:45 in neighborhoods that I hate.

Is it wrong that I secretly hope the idiots who shoot off their fireworks long after little ones have gone to bed lose a finger or hand in the process? All I know is my blood pressure jumps way up during the weeks around July 4th when each naptime and bedtime is a race to get the girls asleep before they get scared by the explosions down the street.

I guess the argument for late fireworks is that with Daylight Savings Time, it doesn’t get completely dark until 9:30 to 10:00 in Indiana now.

My response to that is simple: drink more. As a few loyal readers of the blog can attest, I did a fine job shooting off fireworks nine years ago after I had downed massive amounts of scotch. And that, my friends, is a good story and why I’m bothering with this post. So let’s take a time machine back to 1998 and reminisce a little, shall we?

A woman who was then a good friend had just purchased a house and was very excited to host a large group for a party on July 4. There were rumors that I was going to be introduced to a coworker of hers, who several friends had confirmed was extremely attractive. We arrived early, and like good guests, brought a nice bottle of 12-year-old scotch. Feeling the nerves of the impending introduction, I decided to take the edge off and dipped right into the Glen Whatever. Since it was hot, I added ice, but as our group was in the process of discovering, water just got in the way.

The night progressed, we ate, talked, and drank more. Eventually, the young lady I thought I was going to get an introduction to arrived, although (Oh snap!) she had brought a date. Either that or she immediately started talking to another guy she had some interest in. Either way, she was thoroughly enthralled with their conversation and our introduction never took place. Feeling an urge to feel sorry for myself, I returned to the scotch bottle again.

And again.

And again.

I was bummed, but getting really happy drunk so it was a nice balance.

At some point in there, our hostess announced that she had purchased one of those big fireworks kits at Wal-Mart; you know, those shrink-wrapped assortments of about 30 different kinds of fireworks. She decided that I, the man who had about 1/2 a bottle of scotch in him already, needed to shoot them off for the neighborhood kids. Normally, I don’t want much to do with fireworks. But with a significant boost of liquid courage, and probably a pathetic belief that I might impress the girl who was still talking to the other guy, I accepted the offer and marched out into the street. For the next hour, I shot off everything in the package, with a few refills to my cup along the way. To this day, I don’t know how I didn’t either light myself on fire or blow myself, or someone else, up. had no business working with fire and small explosives, but somehow I pulled it off.

And you know what? I didn’t bitch about it not being dark yet. I lit those bitches off, the kids had a great time, and we were done by 10:00.

So kids, go get wasted and shoot your fireworks off early this July 4.

Oh, and that girl never did talk to me. But at the end of the night, the scotch bottle was empty, and as far as I remember, only one other person was drinking scotch that night.

So happy 4th.


We had a few minutes of silence tonight. We ordered a two-screen portable DVD player for the van last week and decided to fire it up for the girls for the first time, just to make sure it worked.

We got everything working, put the girls in their seats, popped in Finding Nemo, and for a few minutes, we had glorious silence. M. could only go so long before asking 1000 questions, “What’s that? Where’s he going? What’s his daddy doing?” and C. was close enough to bedtime to be super fussy, but we did like the early results.

Let’s just hope it does as well on our trip to KC next month.

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